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RCAF seeing stars yet again

Military brass, including Defence Minister Tea Banh (saluting), arrive at the 63rd anniversary celebrations of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Phnom Penh in November.
Military brass, including Defence Minister Tea Banh (saluting), arrive at the 63rd anniversary celebrations of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Phnom Penh in November. Heng Chivoan

RCAF seeing stars yet again

The inflated ranks of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are set to swell further still following a recent round of promotions that minted more than 120 new generals, and elevated dozens more.

According to several decrees in royal books for September and October, the Kingdom’s military elevated 123 officers to brigadier general, 63 to major general and 14 to lieutenant general. The influx follows the promotion of 200 people in July to either one, two or three stars.

Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat was unavailable to comment yesterday on the mass advancements. Defence Minister Tea Banh said he was “busy”. There are thought to be more than 2,000 generals in RCAF, though the total number has never been released.

In 2011, Defence Minister Tea Banh was forced to freeze the handing out of general’s stars, conceding there was a gap between some senior officer’s rank and their age and experience.

The discrepancies also complicated cooperation with foreign militaries, he acknowledged, with some Cambodian officers lacking the experience of their rank equivalents from other countries.

“The result is a loss of prestige for the military from an international perspective as it indicates a lack of professionalism,” said Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace research fellow Kevin Nauen of Cambodia’s bloated upper ranks.

“But in the national context, it functions well to ensure overlap of military and party interests. Such promotions are clearly a way to reward loyalty and cultivate support.”

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